Doctor Who #945: The Last Precinct

"You can't invade your own home."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.21 2010.

IN THIS ONE... Darius' dad puts into effect his plans to rid the world of the CCPC.

REVIEW: The Last Precinct does more to humanize Darius than all the previous episodes combined, even though its plot is pretty thin. We meet his father, Harry Pike, one of the last human policemen to serve Nondon, now a rebel/terrorist out to give show the world the CCPCs who replaced him are unreliable. Well, he's preaching to the choir there. He should just have let their record speak for itself. Then he wouldn't have had to leave his family, and maybe Darius wouldn't have turned into a delinquent jerk. Confronted by his past, and struggling with a filial bitterness your humble blogger knows well enough (or did, you eventually come to terms with these things), Darius is sympathetic and watchable for perhaps the first time in his televised life. It's a story line that connects to the other kids' absent parents, a common bond they address, however superficially. The way his car flirts awkwardly with him is rather amusing too; I wish they'd done a lot more with this, and I'm intrigued as to what it tells us about him.

The father-son relationship is at the heart of the episode, and it's encouraging that it's resolved in a positive but not a glib manner, but that means the A-plot itself is rather thin. Harry Pike's goals aren't too far from the kids' own dissent against the Department, and it's a cool use of Gryffen Manor having once been a police station. Pike has uncovered a conspiracy, which goes beyond the question of humans being replaced by robots. Alien, Cronenberg-lite, symbionts have been inserted into the CCPCs' bodies (so they ARE cyborgs, after all) and he's infecting them with a virus that puts them under his control. Obviously, it's got to go wrong, but the CCPCs suck so hard, it's hard to take the threat seriously. A quick technobabble ending with Gryffen sacrificing any chance to get his family back (again) by pulling a piece of bioware out of the STM controls is muddled. All you need to know is that it gives K9 laser inoculation capability. Whatever.

Story's okay, character development better than average. It does make an annoying faux-pas, however. The dialog shortens the series' timeline by suggesting everything important happened in the last two years. The CCPCs replaced human cops in 2048 (June backed the decision), which is when the last precinct (the police station that is now the show's standing set) closed, and Harry Pike left his family to fight the Man. So in those two years - possibly less since the season started in 2050 - CCPCs came online, the last police station was closed and turned into "Gryffen Manor", Gryffen took the STM from the Fallen Angel in northern Canada and installed it in the mansion, his family disappeared into it, and he took on the delinquent Darius (who spent some time as a child visiting the building with his dad) as an assistant... all before K9, Starkey and Jorji's intersected his. That's QUICK. The house looks too lived in for the professor to have done all the remodeling, and Darius is too old to have been this strongly affected by his father disappearing a mere two years ago. Just nerdy nitpicking, I know, but it's still a rather bizarre gaffe.

WHO REFERENCE WATCH: Harry Pike calls the rogue CCPCs "Cybermenaces", just a syllable too far to be a Doctor Who monster.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Finally a good episode for Darius, but the story needed more room to breathe.

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